Topic: Ownership in a Social and Constitutional Context: Comparing Scotland and Norway
Property law, and ownership in particular, comprises the rules which most directly regulate the use of our natural resources. Property law, from a legal perspective, is often seen as an abstract system of rules which is independent from the social, political, historical and environmental context of a specific country. Deeper consideration, however, and comparison between jurisdictions, reveals that property law reflects the values of a particular country which originate from the priorities of the individual society. These values can be expressed in court decisions, legislation and constitutional provisions.
In this presentation, I will place ownership within its social and constitutional context by comparing the legal position in Scotland and Norway, specifically in relation to the connection between land and water. I argue that the priorities of these two countries are demonstrated in the decisions made regarding land use and ownership when water became an increasingly contested resource. I claim that the history of these two countries has implications for promoting sustainable land use in relation to water in the future. I suggest that understanding the way that property law and ownership functions within a social and constitutional context is crucial for fostering sustainable land use in light of growing global challenges such as continuing environmental degradation, increasing industrialisation and rising inequality.